Shoreham Football Club were knocked off the Southern Combination League Premier Division summit following a mixed bag of Easter results.
Horsham YMCA foughtback from a goal down to stun nine-man Mussels and seal a 2-1 win on Saturday, before Kieron Pamment’s strike got Shoreham back on the winning trail at rivals Lancing less than 48 hours later.
Just a three-point return over Easter was not enough to ensure Mussels’ place at the top with Haywards Heath Town taking maximum points in the same fixtures to go top.
Heath’s win over Eastbourne Town on Saturday ensured they went top with three games to go. Shaun Saunders’ side maintained their one-point cushion by seeing off Hassocks on Easter Monday, while Mussels continued the pressure with a 1-0 win over Lancers.
Shoreham boss Bryan O’Toole feels defeat against Horsham YM may cost them the title but revealed both he and the squad won’t give up hope.
He said: “We made two silly mistakes and allowed Horsham to get two goals. We just did not turn up and so many decisions went against us.
“Josh Heyburn slips as he goes to take a goal-kick seven minutes into injury-time, it then falls to Sam Schaaf to put into an empty net.
“We definitely did not deserve to lose the game, a point would have kept us top. Now we’ve got to hope Haywards Heath slip-up, we just have to be ready and waiting should they do so.”
Alex Laing’s 30-yard wonder strike fired Mussels ahead two minutes after the restart before a disastrous final half-hour.
Joseph Dryer picked up two bookings in the space of a minute as Mussels were forced to see out the final 30 minutes with ten-man.
Schaaf netted less than a minute after Dryer was dismissed to level things up.
Shoreham remained resolute until a calamitous error saw Horsham win it. Heyburn’s attempted goal-kick clearance fell straight to Schaaf to fire home.
Jamie Cradock was then dismissed by referee Darren Eaton for violent conduct as YM celebrated the late, late winner.
Mussels served up the perfect response to keep the pressure on now league leaders Haywards Heath at Lancing.
Pamment got the only goal 16 minutes from time as Shoreham put Saturday’s defeat behind them.
Mussels boss Bryan O’Toole believes his side were back to something near their best in the win.
He added: “We were so much better and played some really good stuff on a nice surface. We’re still in with a chance, all we can do is keep fighting.”
SHOREHAM v Horsham YMCA: Heyburn; Hartley, Denyer, O’Hagan, Dryer; J.Keehan, Kneller; Laing, R.O’Toole, Donaldson; Pamment. Subs: Packer (Donaldson), K.Keehan (Hartley), Cradock (Laing), Burton, Caplin.
SHOREHAM v Lancing: Heyburn, Hartley, O’Hagan, Kneller, Packer; Burton, J.Keehan; Donaldson, R.O’Toole, Dryer; Pamment. Subs: K.Keehan (Burton), Storrie (R.O’Toole), Laing (Donaldson), Proto-Gates.
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